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Q&A with Coraline Corsette, Author of ‘First Fret One: The Road We Traveled’

Coraline Corsette is the author of First Fret One: The Road We Traveled, an intimate contemporary romance fiction novel.

Coraline has a Bachelors degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from UNCA and is currently studying web development. She lives with her partner, his ferret, and her cats. When she doesn’t write, she cooks, cleans, bakes or codes – in her words – she’s always exploring something! This is her first published book!

First Fret One Synopsis

First Fret One focuses on Semolina, an atypical hero if there ever was one. She’s mentally ill, a former sex worker, queer, and living on disability. She thinks she’s had her last adventure. But when she wins a writing contest she never would have had the courage to enter herself in, Irish rockstar Michael Breathnach (Bran-nock) comes to make her an offer: to be his companion, muse, and assist in songwriting as he traverses a seemingly endless path on the road.

Michael’s world is all the things Sem left behind and sometimes worse. Not only is it a world of drugs, alcohol, and infamy, his own friends seem to be warning her from the beginning – the talented but thin skinned artist is not always kind, not always forgiving, not always warm.

Just how volatile he is, she will have to find out for herself, and by then, she may be too caught up in the music and the man to escape his pull.

What inspired you to become an author?

Reading voraciously as a young person, to the point that I often got in trouble for it, then getting into fan fiction as I got older and more curious, and thinking “I could do as well as some of these writers.” I had a fair number of teachers and professors encouraging me too, so I kept trying, and taking courses, and I’ve never stopped.

Describe a typical writing day.

I wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning, after going to bed early, and write until I’m starving, sometime around ten. After eating, I edit what I just wrote for several hours and then do other things.

What was the most challenging thing about writing First Fret One?

Originally I wrote it for myself, to have a hero as unlikely as me go on an adventure during COVID-19 lockdown, when adventures really felt like they were over. Adapting it to the tastes and interests of other readers was a very major rewrite.

How do you develop your plot and characters? 

I develop plot by thinking up dynamic scenes, putting them in logical order, and then trimming the fat. I develop characters in probably the least exciting way, by curling up with character sheets at some point, writing down their attributes, and then deciding based on how they have behaved things like what they want and what they would do to get it.

What makes a good story is balance and complexity. Not being so plot or character driven that the other falls to the side. Complexity in characters and world building. A book can’t be as messy as life, but it can easily feel thin and false if it isn’t complex enough.

My favorite moments in this book for example are those where there is a big unspoken emotional shift between Michael and Sem.

How do you do research for your books?

I spend time with atlases, Google Maps, Google Images. If at all possible, I go to the places I am writing about or write about things I have really seen or experienced myself.

I watch a lot of YouTube videos to get pronunciations, history, and culture down. In the case of the First Fret series, I also listened to a lot of music from the last fifty years and watched a lot of artists perform live to get a sense for how that would feel.

I do a lot of research for my books, and look at a lot of maps. All this with excellent music or comedy YouTube playing in the background.

I also like to write other things, like comedy scripts, poetry.

Tell us more about the publishing process behind the book.

I have a bit of a social media following through my previous careers, and I have reached out to them and to my real life connections. Other than that, and getting a cover made on Fiverr, I haven’t done a lot of promotion – yet.

My focus right now is to get at least the second of four book ready to publish before I reach out for much more publicity.

What are some tools you used to write this book from start to end?

I write a lot of beginning ideas on college ruled notebooks and then type them into Google Docs.
My final edit is done while moving things chapter by chapter into Scrivener.
And I use Evernote for quick reminders.

What authors inspired you into becoming an author yourself?

Tamora Pierce
Robin McKinley
Laurie J. Marks
Neil Gaiman
Richelle Mead
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Jane Austen

What are your future plans and where can our readers find you?

I plan on putting the final touches on First Fret Two-Four and publishing those on Amazon. My books can be found there and the Kindle Store, and updates can be found on my Facebook page.

Do you have a special message for your readers?

It’s important to me that readers use their own best judgement and experience when interpreting my work and the correctness of the views and actions of the characters.

No character in my books is without bias, they are all neck deep in their own desires, loyalties, and hatreds, and though the book is written in first person, the protagonist is not exempt from that.

It could be argued that she is never a reliable narrator, and many times in the book she absolutely isn’t, so it’s important to look for the flaws in her logic.